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Harmony hires architect for Community Center project

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

City Council members in Harmony have been looking at ways to finance the projects that need to be done at the Community Center, both to the building and the parking lot. At the regular meeting on March 11, City Administrator Jerome Illg presented the council with a bid from Skott and Anderson Architects in Mason City for the architectural and engineering work on the project. The bid was accepted at $23,235, which is 10 percent of the total cost of the project.

Illg stated that the building committee recommended that the projects be bid as a package.

The bid from Skott and Anderson included design work to replace walls, windows and entryways for the building, as well as the electrical work, the heating and air conditioning. They recommended putting a heat pump in the gym and electrical units in the hallways.

The cost of the two rooms that were remodeled last year ran $19,000 for the construction work, $7,500 for the electrical. Each room has two PTEC heating units, which were $1,650 a piece.

According to Mayor David Kingsley, the city is looking at a $250,000 project, which doesn't include heating the gym area. Everyone agreed that the project needs to be done, and before next winter. Council member Linda Grover pointed out that the heating bill for the building in February was $5,000.

Kingsley said the firm that did the work on the roof, knows the building well. They will be coming to Harmony on March 20 to look things over and draw up a plan, which will be presented at the April meeting.

Illg is in the process of applying for a loan from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) which gives loans to small communities. The plans will be sent to them for review.

Kingsley suggested that instead of borrowing the money, the city use money from the electrical fund, which currently has around $550,000. Grover felt uncomfortable with the idea of taking money from the fund, in case of a natural disaster in the future, stating that it was a big concern for her.

"Borrowing that much money is a big concern for me," said Kingsley.

Illg also had three quotes for milling and overlaying the parking lot, ranging from $55,165 to $71,949. He reminded the council that any project over $50,000 has to be competitively bid out. He also mentioned that if they want the parking lot project funded by the USDA, they will have to have design costs as well. He will look into what those costs would be.

The USDA will not deny the city's application, and will be able to loan the money at 4.5 percent interest for either the building project or the parking lot, or both together if the council so decides.

Kingsley felt uncomfortable going ahead with any plans, as there was not a full council. They will look further into the financing options and discuss it more next month.

Snow Plow

The council approved the purchase of a new truck for plowing snow. City employee Chris Johnson received three bids for new tractors. They had decided it wasn't worth the extra money for a four wheel drive, and it would be better to go with a new truck. He recommended buying a truck from Hawkeye Truck in Decorah for $65,100. He also recommended getting the equipment, including the plow, front mount wing, a muni-body box and the hydraulics, at Universal Truck Equipment for $57,653.77.

Illg stated that $46,000 has been earmarked for a new truck, and the city has to come up with the other $76,753. Kingsley suggested setting aside $25,000 from the capital outlay every year for the next three years to pay for it, and the council approved.

Johnson had been offered $3,500 for trade-in on the old truck. Johnson and council member Robert Smith will be deciding whether they will trade it in or keep it and get rid of another older vehicle.

Street Lights

A bid was received from Morem Electric on placing four new street lights on West Center Street and three new lights on East Center Street. The total cost for the seven lights would be $32,750, which would come out of the electric fund.

Kingsley was skeptical about spending the money at this time, saying he felt they had other priorities right now. He added that the streets have several buildings that are empty right now.

City Attorney Richard Nethercut said the extra street lights extending from Main Ave. would be encouraging, and help the area to not feel abandoned. Council member Sherry Hines said there are still businesses on the street that would benefit from the extra lights. Grover agreed that it makes sense to go ahead and do it now. It was decided to wait on the decision.

Other business

There will be a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Public Hearing before the regular council meeting on May 13, 2008. The TIF financing is for the Antique Mall that Jean Ingvalson would like to build in the Industrial Park. According to Illg, the cost to set up the TIF is around $6,000, but it is worth it in the end even for just one lot. The TIF gives property tax breaks to businesses for a maximum of nine years.

A water line running from the ditch near Dean Brunsvold's house to the Engen's house next door on the south end of town has been leaking, and will need to be replaced. The project will run around $2,500-$3,000.

Bids for seal coating some of the streets in town are out, and money will be withheld until the work is completed.

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